And Ron, I was addressing The Pundit and the issues brought up by their difficulty in failing to distinguish between opinion and fact. One of their own readers brought up the issue further down in the blog in what I thought was a very objective way. That reader thought that the paper was giving the left a gift by the way it was trying to present the facts of the pushing incident itself. I think he was right.
As for Mannie, If they want to publish him, thatís their business. They own the magazine. What they are doing there, however, is different than what you do here. They say they are a magazine and they make a pretense of publishing ďnews.Ē They also publish ďopinionĒ in the form of a blog.
You publish, in this part of your PiP project, a series of opinion threads which are constructed with a wide degree of leeway. A quotation from one of these threads is not meant to be taken as a fact; itís meant to be taken as an opinion. If somebody wants to publish journalism, they should not assume this is the place to go to publish it. You make no pretense of offering this service. As far as I know, you never did. This operation is what the late Eric Berne would probably call a clean operation; that is, what it says above the front door is what gets shipped out the loading dock in back. It says, [bold]Acme Opinion Company[/bold] over the front gate and it shows the specs proudly for everyone to see who labors there. Go to the rear gate, open up one of the packages from one of the trucks and youíll find an Acme Opinion, quality controlled and inspected as per specs, in every box.
At a real news magazine, thatís what youíll find, too, including the inspection. The real news magazines and newspapers, too, may have opinion in them as well, but they draw a careful line between opinion and news because a news magazine runs on reputation.
The Pundit didnít do its job. It reported things that other people said uncritically, and it reported them as fact. This is what one blog writer pointed out. It wasnít a real news magazine; it was an opinion magazine pretending to be a news magazine because it didnít ask or attempt to answer the questions that the blogger was asking. These are the same questions that any reasonably skeptical news consumer should be asking.
I think the reason that The Pundit wasnít asking the questions is because it isnít in the business of reporting news; itís in the business of stirring up rage. Thatís what I think. I can remember seeing left wing pamphlets that were written the same way, and if you look on the net, surely you can find their equivalent there today.
Thatís what Mannie was doing in his blog entry. I donít fault Mannie for it; thatís simply who Mannie is and thatís probably the most insightful as he can get at this particular moment in time. The problem is that The Pundit was publishing it in a format that put it cheek by jowl with what a lot of people canít distinguish from news. And that gave it a degree of weight that was purely ó at least in my opinion ó artificial. I confess the nature of those opinions certainly help shape the degree of my reaction to it. Conflating President Obama with Adolf Hitler requires doing the very notion of analogy a certain amount of damage, and managing to inject that level of loathing and rage into it is actually, at least for me, psychologically painful.
Seeing such material there and seeing it here, however, are different things. I donít like that sort of thing here, but we are not trying to present ourselves as a news organization, and as long as that rage is not thrown upon other people here or isnít expressed as a direct threat to somebody in government (which may bring out the Secret Service or other police actions) or in private life (which may be covered by laws governing assault) the laws about free speech and the rules of this site are quite accepting. Mannieís opinions, as long as they donít or didnít get personal, could get shipped out the back dock without any problems. Thereís shouldnít be any guilt by association involved there, unless I tag myself with it.
I hope nobody will tell my liberal friends.
On the other hand, The Pundit, to the extent that it wants to be thought of as a news source, has a fair sized problem indeed. It hasnít kept its blog separate from its news. This is something that news magazines and papers make an attempt to do, so that their news authority is not tarnished by the opinions of its editorial writers or such readers who may wish to contribute. The Pundit has not done so thus far, possibly contributing to the notion ó the correct notion as it turns out ó that such a contribution would be welcome there. I predict that more such contributions will be published there in th future, and that the critical thinking in editing the various news articles published will not rise significantly.
As someone once pointed out to me in helping to consider whether a particular suicidal patient should be allowed a pass to walk about the grounds, ďThe past is the best predictor of the future.Ē I pointed out that we now had airplanes and cars and highways, and he pointed out to me that the patient would also get out of the hospital one day, one way or another.